The recent release of the Ipad in Canada highlights the continued relevance of the Internet and web-enabled devices for Canadians. It comes as Canadians gradually (though not completely) move online according to Statistics Canada.
The Internet savvy will be surprised, perhaps, by Statistics Canada’s latest findings on Internet that show that 20 per cent of Canadians (16 years and older) did not access the Internet in the previous year. Those offline are certainly missing out and they are missing out even more today than they were ten years ago.
The Internet is not just a convenience – it acts as a fundamental bridge in our lives allowing us to access services and participate or co-create contemporary culture. Importantly, although there remains a gap between urban and rural communities, the gaps based on education, income and age are narrowing as Canadians of other groups are catching up to the young.
It is tempting to think of the Internet through the lens of entertainment. For example, among Internet users between 2007 and 2009, one of the biggest increases in specific activities online (or reasons for going online) relates to the rise in the proportion who downloaded or watched a movie or tv online (from 20% to 31% in two years). But consider that more than two thirds conducted banking (67%), half purchased a good or service, and a third used the Internet for a job search (35%).
The challenge, of course, is that what we do online is almost as important as what we do online. Here the young, as one would expect, are more active and diverse users.
For younger Canadians, the Internet is practically part of their makeup. While 27% of online Canadians contributed content to the web, 45% of those under 30 did. We can almost stop talking about one type of Internet divide (access) but expect the other type (activities) to remain.